d’Verse Haibun Monday & SixSentenceStory; Solstice & Season


You know that there are many versions of traditional fairy tales and that over time they have become less grim. Even as the Brothers Grimm were collecting traditional tales some were being recast as tales of morality, and that has become so ingrained I bet we all have an opinion on what Red Riding Hood should or shouldn’t have done regarding shortcuts through the woods and talking to strangers, let alone the scarlet sin of her attire.

But today of all days I picked up the Museum of Modern Art’s (New York) reprint of Three Young Rats and Other Rhymes with drawings by Alexander Calder, and in his introduction, James Johnson Sweeney introduced me to the idea that Little Red Riding Hood ‘has probably grown out of a myth of sunset and sunrise’ and that ‘the wolf is a very natural personification of the night’; the version where the huntsman retrieves Red and her grandmother from the wolf’s dark belly makes sense with this idea and jibes with other traditional tales.

Grandma was in a weakened state, but her granddaughter lingered and picked flowers… this is a summer solstice tale, with Lil’ Red representing day and Grandma representing season, the wolf patient and confident with them both. I wonder if in even earlier versions the wolf was less maligned, punished less severely for his necessary and natural role in consuming day.

Grandma, you know too

reflected light in dark eyes

Cloaks grown heavy shed  

hung without shame at dusk’s door

borne again at dawn; his yawn

So yes this is a mashup. If you want to count and count the tanka as a sentence, there are six sentences here for Denise at GirlieOntheEdge‘s SixSentenceStory prompt (season) and thank you Frank J. Tassone for the prompt from D’Verse pub for poets (solstice). I also cut the prose down that this would fit, in 99 words, the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge prompt, also “solstice” this week.

(99 Words)

We are all familiar with the tale of Red Riding Hood. Now consider it as a solstice tale.

Grandma’s weakened and wan, but her granddaughter lingers and picks flowers… This is a summer solstice tale, with Lil’ Red representing day and Grandma representing season, the patient and confident wolf personifying night.

I wonder if in even earlier versions the wolf was less maligned, less punished for his necessary and natural role in consuming day.

Grandma, you know too—  

Reflected light in dark eyes;

your thinning cloak

shed without shame

hung at dusk’s door;

borne again at dawn;  

His yawn.

56 thoughts on “d’Verse Haibun Monday & SixSentenceStory; Solstice & Season

    • I am so excited to share that timely find and to have another reason to reread my Brothers Grimm.
      I am also glad to have something at long last in response to a D’Verse prompt; I’ve been slacking.
      Thanks for reading!


  1. I’ve played Red Riding Hood in a school play, when I was five years old. Wish I could have understand the multifarious ramifications of the story then… I was Dawn, which just did what the Night told me to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did not expect this either, but happened to pick up that book and read the intro- mind blown! It makes so much sense that Red Riding Hood is a solstice tale. I interpreted Grandma as season turning from that. It explains how easily the wolf was mistaken for her.
      Yes, I want to reread some of the old tales again too. Thanks, Rebecca.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Buddy!
      The thought of this tale being about the sunset/sunrise was such an aha for me, thank you John Sweeney.
      It still struck me though how harshly the wolf is dealt; do people despise/fear the night so much? Maybe he is one of those necessary sacrifices that keeps the world turning in old tales. I tried in my little retell to show him as more essential and the relationship more consensual. Anyway. I better get off to work. Thanks Norah.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps, in the long ago days when the tale was first told, access to lighting was not as easy as it is now. The longest nights, particularly if not moonlit, may have been quite scary. But I guess there was fire to ward off the wolves so it may not have been all bad.
        As I said – interesting and worthy of contemplation.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. There are so many versions of this story, hundreds of years older than Grimm. I think there’s a Norse story that has a wolf eating the sun goddess. Usually though, it’s only in the more modern versions that Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are brought back to life. Interesting way to link it with the solstice though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good one Mz Avery, that’s an interesting way to link the tale with the solstice and season. My first memories of the story are from the Ladybird books with their fearsome and realistic illustrations – seeing the wolf depicted as wearing Granny’s clothes and in her bed was truly scary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, those scary images. But if it’s a more benign day/night/ or solstice tale, it’s easy to see how the disguise worked so well, the end of day confused with the beginning of night, or the end of one season for the beginning of another. But maybe those images and night terrors were important to impart, the better to keep safe inside by the fire.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: #SixSentenceStory; Season | ShiftnShake

  5. Thank you for sharing this! How very interesting to consider this interpretation and to see what you were able to achieve in various writing formats with that story and the interpretation presentated.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Solstice « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  7. OH! My. Brain!!

    I loved this post/Six the way I enjoy listening to Jacques Loussier.

    Totally solid grounding, (for your) take on a well-known fairy tale.

    (Which, for the record, imo rivals the Bible for, ‘OK you got to pick one work/collection of writings to base your future stories on…”)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s